The increasing prevalence of wildfires (often sparked by utility wires) and other extreme weather events highlights the urgent need for DERs and local microgrid systems to provide true resiliency against climate-induced disruption and state authorized Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) that would preemptively deenergize transmission lines. Unfortunately, there are many hurdles to be cleared before microgrids and distributed energy resources (DERs) are widely adopted in California, and state policy must be enacted to provide a level playing field for both locally distributed and regionally transmitted energy.
Enter Advanced Community Energy (ACE), a statewide collaborative program conceived by visionary Lorenzo Kristov, an energy economist, policy analyst and consultant, and long-time Academy collaborator who has worked many times with the Academy in the past regarding the future of the energy grid and how to create resilient communities. For the past six months, Academy Research Director Robert Perry has been working with a core group of energy policy analysts and organizations to develop and transition the ACE concept into law. The primary objective of ACE will be to integrate state energy policy and programs into a collaborative framework (see below) that enrolls local governments and utilities in planning for the rapid development of local DERs and microgrids at critical facilities. In developing this program, the Academy will be advocating for the Goleta Load Pocket to be a primary case study on how ACE legislation can create energy resilience and reliability in areas vulnerable to climate change. The ACE working group is currently developing materials for presentation to state and local stakeholders, with a view towards developing and implementing the program in 2020.